North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

Morris raises money for disability services


Christopher Andersson

Marysville YMCA staff cheer Quinton Morris on as he completes his third lap around the YMCA gym on March 11, raising money for the facility's disability programs with each lap.

Quinton Morris used to require a power wheelchair to move around, but thanks to rigorous training at Marysville's YMCA he is able to move his own wheelchair.

On March 11 he gave back to those disability programs that helped him by doing 21 charity laps around the YMCA's gym, raising thousands of dollars.

Those 21 laps raised $1,760 collected so far and about $1,600 in pledges that remain to be collected, according to Ronda Hardcastle, health and well-being director for the YMCA.

The donations will go toward the YMCA's disability programs which help people like Morris.

Many of the programs the YMCA runs for individuals with disabilities are meant for the community as well and are available to everyone, not just members, said Scott Ballenger, adaptive needs trainer at the Marysville YMCA.

"[Morris] has been a recipient in the past of these services and now he's made the leap to raise money for them," said Ballenger.

Morris, a 25-year-old from Stanwood, was born with cerebral palsy, a movement disorder that affects coordination and muscles. He also lives with bi-polar disorder and a vision disability.

A couple of years ago Morris decided he wanted to not be reliant on a power wheelchair and Ballenger helped Morris train his upper body strength.

"He wanted to start using his own strength to move his chair so we started training," Ballenger said.

That training can often be intensive, according to Morris.

"It takes a lot of motivation to do a lot of training and a lot of cardio," he said.

Now Morris has enough experience training that he can assist others who come in for training.

"He's worked really hard at strengthening his body the last few years and is now able to help other people do the same thing. I can ask Quinton to help me train others who come in," said Ballenger.

Morris added resistance to his wheelchair by attaching a crate with weights added to it to the back and dragging it along. A carpeted bottom prevents the box from scraping the floor.

Similar devices are used by Paralympic athletes, said Ballenger, and a volunteer at the YMCA found a used pallet and some carpet to create a makeshift one for Morris.

Morris dragged his 15-pound crate and 10 pounds of weights along with him for his 21 laps around the YMCA gym.

Ballenger praised Morris for his health living, which he considers important for people who live with disabilities.

Ballenger himself became a quadriplegic when he was 15 after he dove into shallow water and broke his neck.

"One of the reasons I do this job is that I see [healthy living] as the key to my own personal independence," he said.

The Marysville YMCA has grown to be a great place to find that healthy lifestyle for people with disabilities, he said.

"One of the things that's happened at this facility is that it has become quite inclusive. It's neat because you'll have someone with disabilities next to someone without and they're all here working together for the same goal," said Ballenger.

Although Morris only started his wheelchair resistance training a couple of years ago, he has attended the Marysville YMCA for seven to eight years now, said Hardcastle.

"He grew up here pretty much," she said. Earlier this year Morris took part in the YMCA's adaptive swim program, the first time he had gotten into a pool, said Hardcastle.

But Morris also volunteers by greeting people at the YMCA and being an advocate for those with disabilities, she said.

In addition to his time at the YMCA, he volunteers at local nursing homes and works at Providence Hospital.

"He tries to give back to the community in a lot of ways," said Ballenger.

The YMCA's shirts have a box on the back where its members get to write why they come to the facility.

On the back of Morris' shirt he wrote "They help people get stronger in mind and spirit. Ask me how."

And when you do ask him he will tell you.

"They help me maintain my positive goals in life and realize I do have friends with disabilities and that I can help them," he said.


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